We are the lions…

On the connection between language, ideas, and violence…

We Are The Lions (Spoken Cinema™)

I don’t have a problem with pornography. I
mean, I don’t get upset when I see sexually
exploitative commercials. In fact,
those are usually my favorite ones. I
mean, I don’t know what her ass has to do
with my hamburger, but I’m going to drive
through the very next day. I don’t have a
problem with violent movies or images or
the word “bitch.” I don’t have a problem
with jokes about women. In fact, I freely
admit, there are times where I sit back
with my fellas and kick back, talk about
some bitch and how I
wish I could hit that.
Talk openly in public
places, unconcerned
if your kids laugh. I mean, it’s just
words, just jokes, just dudes talking shit
that you never expect is going to get back.
However, I do have a problem with violence
and cruelty and rape and abuse. And even
if we know it’s just me, it’s just you,
it’s just a few harmless jokes between me
and my dudes, that still perpetuates a
culture where it’s easy to confuse the
link between the jokes and the bruise.
Between her getting choked and what’s just
jokes between dudes. And if there’s a
connection between the things I don’t have
a problem with and the things that I do
then perhaps I need to rethink my views
and the way we view women and how many
views sexually exploited images get on
YouTube. My best friends have beautiful
children and if what I have to do to keep
their daughters from getting raped or
harassed or abused is choose to accept
domestic violence is a man’s issue too,
then I’ll do that. And if their sons grow
to be like the men that they see, so it’s
on me to live like the men I want them to
be, then I will do that too. And when
they’re of a certain age, I will tell them
the story I heard when I was young, about
this village being terrorized by lions. So
every so often in this village, the
villagers would wake to find beds
ransacked, bodies torn. And for some odd
reason, the bodies were always female.
Panicked, the men of the village started
sleeping in shifts to make sure at least
one man was always watching. Despite that,
the lions came. Too worried to sleep now, the
mothers crept to the beds of their babies
and there watching over them they learned
why the victims were never men. Because on
random nights for unknown reasons, as the
fog crept in and the moon caught in the
branches, the boys and men of the village
became the very thing the women they love
feared most. When I was young, I thought that
story was about lions. It’s not. See, we
are children, the monsters are under the
bed. When we are adults, the monsters have
moved. They are inside us. They fight us.
They climb in bed beside us. And so to
stay safe from danger, we raise our girls
to believe they must avoid it. And we
we raise our boys to believe they must become
it and so they do. And then one day they
grow up to discover they are the lions.
They are the ones you’re watching out for.
They are the ones. We ask her, what did
you do? When we should ask him, what have
you done? But we don’t. As if we can’t
blame him. As if it’s her fault for
failing to accept that being safe around
men, that’s not safe to expect. I mean she
got into a cage with a lion. She deserves
what she gets. And as men we have to
reject that mindset or the violence won’t
end. We have to accept most often it
starts in the hands and hearts and minds
of men. And we are the lions time and
again. And if we aren’t the lions, we’re
on their side too often standing proudly
in defense of the pride. Perhaps afraid
that if we stand with women against the
lion, we will ourselves be devoured. And
so ironically, to prove we aren’t cowards
we become cowards. To prove we aren’t weak
we become weak. The prove we are still
lions we become sheep, unwilling to do the
one thing that must be done, speak. And
our silence chokes as heavy as hands. It
stings and every black eye, where men
stand, violence lives or dies. And that is
why to call this just a women’s issue?
It’s a lie. We must be involved. This is a
problem that cannot be solved with our
silence. If we want to end the violence,
we must speak, we must act. One in five
women are raped by men. We must own that
fact: 640,000 women and girls are
trafficked for sex annually. We must own
up to that. Three women are killed each
day by men who say they love them. That
fact is ours and ours alone. Domestic
violence is ours to own. This is what we
must understand: this violence ends, where
it starts, in the hands and in the hearts
and in the minds of men because we are the
lions time and again.

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